By Theresa Aldrich
Filing a claim for service connected disability compensation through Veterans Affairs can be a daunting task. But take heart; in 2016, it’s much easier for veterans than it used to be.
When I started the site HadIt.com Veteran To Veteran in 1997, there weren’t many online resources for veterans trying to research their claims. We were left to get a VSO and trust what they said, or try to go it alone and hope we got it right. Coming out of the military, many of us foolishly thought it would be a straightforward process.
But now, with the reach of the world wide web, here are some ways that the internet can assist you:
Medication side effects: Some of the drugs that are prescribed for service connected disabilities may cause secondary disabilities. Research the side effects of any medications you are taking. This can help link secondary conditions to service connected conditions.
Locating Records: Unit records and histories are available online, so if you are trying to find places and dates, it’s probably out there.
BVA Case Search: Search previous Board of Veterans Appeals decisions on the internet. If you’re wondering what kind of evidence you need to prove your case, you can research similar cases and see what evidence was required. The same applies to the US Court of Veterans Appeals.
Resource Materials: VA manuals, such as 38 CFR (Schedule for Rating Disabilities, Code of Federal Regulations, etc.) can be read, downloaded, and even printed out.
Communities and Social Media: There are numerous veteran blogs communities. The ability to talk to other veterans and work together to research or give opinions is priceless. Don’t forget to check out the resources available on Hadit.com and MilitaryConnection.com.
No one has a bigger stake in your claim than you, so be proactive.